A/N: This idea has been in my head for several months and I've had it written for weeks. Blame me for not being self-disciplined enough and finish all the stories I have going before posting anything new. Be patient with updates since this is my newest story and has to be given less attention than my others.

Enjoy reading, and please give me a comment.

Authentic Emotions

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly – Henri Bergson

Summer Roberts dug her chin deeper into the warm cloth of her scarf, feeling how the wind blew into her jacket, causing goose bumps to appear on her skin. She really had to switch to her winter coat and start using a hat soon. She pushed the swing again and had to smile and lift her head from the protection of the wind. She was not a person to complain, at least not anymore. Summer had learnt that by complaining you didn't make things better or achieve anything. Complaining only led to frustration, if not in yourself but in the people around you.

The cold weather was something that she once would have hated and done anything to avoid. Though Summer had come to learn how to love all the seasons; you had much more appreciation for the warm summer if you had experienced winter. Sometimes she had a difficult time to understand how she had managed to live in sunny California where it seldom rained and where you could wear the same clothes all year round. Here, in Providence, Summer had experienced several years of the different seasons and now she wouldn't want to skip any of them. Not even a windy and cold November afternoon like this.

"Higher," a laughing voice called and Summer pushed the swing higher, watching how it went through the air, back and forth. The park was slowly emptying, parents rolling their children's in their strollers to the parking lot or for those who preferred to walk they took the paths which led to the streets. Checking her watch Summer saw that it was past four and time for her to head home as well.

She let the swing lose its speed and took a look at her own stroller which stood parked a few metres away from her. They had been in the park for a little over an hour and Summer could feel how her stomach reminded her of the small portion of soup she'd had for lunch. "Phailin, it's time to go home."

The three-year-old girl who sat in the swing looked confused and started to wiggle, trying to make the swing move again. "Wanna swing." Summer tittered and lifted her daughter out from the swing, carefully cradling her in her arms as she walked them to the stroller. "Why?" the child said and pointed one arm in the direction of the swing she just had sat in. The red mitten then went up to her face to clumsily take some hair out of her face.

Summer helped the girl, gently putting the black hair back into the cap with her more supple gloves. "It's time for dinner, sweetie. We'll go back tomorrow. Okay?" She put Phailin down in the stroller, accurately making sure that she wasn't cold. The white woolly cap and the scarf framed her small face and the beige jacket didn't let any wind come to her skin. "You're not cold, are you baby?"

Phailin shook her head. "No."

"Good." Summer lifted the brake form the wheel and began to push Phailin away from the playground. The wind was quite strong and made the leaves that were left dance in circles on the ground. "It's nasty outside. So cold." She pulled the zipper of her jacket further up. "Don't you think so, Phailin?"

Summer didn't receive anything as an answer though; Phailin was busier with sucking her right mitten. For a couple of months, Summer had tried really hard to get her to stop with that. Phailin always put a finger in her mouth; usually her right thumb and nothing could make her stop. And it wasn't like Summer could throw her thumb away like a pacifier; her finger would always be available. "Maybe a few more months," Summer sighed and let her daughter be.

After much information and researching about the children's situation in the world and after having seen it with her own eyes, Summer had decided to do something. She submitted an application for adoption and ended up taking Phailin. Born in Thailand by a young and substance abuser she quickly came to a children's home and she was the baby Summer wanted. Only being 25 and not married did not matter. What mattered was that Summer had been sure about it, she wanted to be a mother for Phailin. And these past two years she hadn't regretted it once.

Of course it had been a challenge, getting a one-year-old baby without any experience and by herself. But it was worth it. The love she received from the little girl; to hear her laugh, to take her to the park and to see her grow and teach her things. Nothing brought more joy and meaning to her life than Phailin.

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Eight o'clock the same night Summer flopped down on the couch, wrapping her legs underneath her and making herself comfortable with a blanket. She was exhausted and for a minute she leaned back into the cushions, closing her eyes and letting her body relax for the first time that day. Summer had a busy schedule but that wasn't something she hated or disliked. Though sometimes, at evenings like these, she felt how tired she actually was and how her active lifestyle was affecting her.

A minute later she reached for the phone, dialling Chelsea's number. Chelsea was Summer's closest friend who she'd known since her second year at Brown. For the first year they'd just known each other briefly but when Chelsea's mother died Summer had been the person she'd turned to. They had really gotten to know each other after that, spending time together every day and talking about everything and nothing. And over the years their friendship had only grown.

"Answering while painting my toenails purple." Summer smiled inside as she heard her friend's voice. Chelsea always answered her phone like that, giving a hint of what she was doing.

"Hi, Chels. Purple, huh?"

Chelsea laughed. "Oh, it's you Summer. How are you?"

"Good. Tired, but good. Hectic day."

"As always?" Chelsea said significantly. "Haven't I told you not to stress?"

Summer rolled her eyes and lay down, her head resting on one of the big pillows. "Yeah, yeah. How's your life? Did you have the meeting for the parents yesterday?"

"I did. But the parents are even worse than the kids. I swear, not one of them can tell when their kids are lying. They actually believe that it's the school's fault that their children have C's and D's. Like we have a choice when all they do these days are running around at parties."

Summer laughed, recognizing that behaviour from her own early teens. "Parents can be easy to deceive. At least when they all want to think the best of their kids."

"They better realize what the kids these days are like. Make sure to keep track of your."

"She's three. Not thirteen," Summer said in a meaning tone.

"I know. But you can never start too early. By the way, when will I see my goddaughter again? It's been too long."

"Soon."

Chelsea sighed on the other side of the phone. "I bet she's grown several inches."

"Chels, I promise you that she hasn't. Why don't you and Nathan come to dinner later this week?"

"Better idea. You can come to dinner to us. I won't let you stress even more. You come here and Nathan will cook."

"It's not hard to cook. And I won't stress if it's just you guys," Summer protested.

"Summer," Chelsea said warningly.

"Alright. Your place. Nathan's food."

"Good."

"How is he anyway? How's his knee?"

"Oh, you know, better. But I'll never let him go parachute ever again. Next time he'll kill himself." Summer could notice a hint of fear in her friend's voice. She knew that Chelsea had been terrified when she'd first heard about the accident, even shedding a few tears. And that was not something she often did. It would take a lot for Chelsea Powell to cry.

"Aww, Chels. I'm sure you're taking good care of him. Being his personal nurse, making sure he's comfortable," Summer teased and was positive that she just had caused Chelsea to blush over the phone.

"He's actually pretty good now, walks without difficulty."

"But it's still an excuse to take extra good care of him."

Chelsea cleared her throat. "Switching subject. Dinner. Thursday. Write down."

"I don't have to write that down," Summer laughed. "I'll remember."

"Sum, we both know that you always tend to forget things. Write it down."

"You're so bossy today. You could think we're related."

"Maybe we are. Are you writing it down?"

Summer reached for her calendar on the table. "Writing it down. Happy?"

"Very."

"Listen, Chels, I have some work I have to do for tomorrow."

"Time to go, I get it."

Summer grinned. "I love you, best friend of mine."

"Tell me something I don't know." Chelsea laughed. "Alright. I love you, too Summer. Now, don't stay up too late. You have a very long day tomorrow."

"What are you? My mother now?"

"Someone has to tell you that work isn't everything."

"Whatever. I'll see you Thursday."

"Give Phailin a kiss from me?"

"Sure, I'll even give her two. Now I have to go. You should go take care of your fiancé."

"Actually I think I'm gonna correct some essays. A few more C's and D's. You know, to piss the parents off."

"Sometimes I wonder why you even are a teacher."

"I happen to be a very good one, Summer. And for your knowledge the kids like me."

"I know. I bet you're the coolest teacher on the entire school."

"Didn't you have to go?"

Summer smirked. "I do. Talk to you later, Chels."

"Love ya!"

Summer laughed and put the phone down. There was no one else like Chelsea, that was for sure. Sitting up she checked her calendar, checking that she had written everything down. It looked good, full as usual but good. "Time for some work!"

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Two hours later Summer suppressed a yawn and closed the folder. She had no idea how she could be tired this early; it was only ten p.m. The early mornings weren't something new and she had never had a problem with them, not for the past couple of years anyway. But work had definitely been more this month. They had a new project, about homeless in the cities. And Summer had taken more than usual on her responsibility; wanting to do and give more to the project. She could use a promotion with more money. Phailin grew out of her clothes so fast and the rent had just been raised. It wasn't like Summer was poor; she had everything she needed and she and Phailin were good. But a higher income would certainly not hurt.

She walked to the bathroom where she washed her face and brushed her teeth. For a long time she stood with the toothbrush in her mouth, staring at herself in the mirror. She was still the same with her long hair and her bright eyes. She didn't look like a mother of a three-year-old but still younger than she was. She'd always looked young.

Sighing she washed the toothbrush and left the bathroom, climbing into her bed where she immediately closed her eyes. A book lay on her bedside table, the newest one her boss had recommended everyone to read, but right now Summer didn't as much as look at it.